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Stress ’causes 25% of paramedic sick days’

A North East Ambulance Service vehicle
Image caption Staff are given support immediately after difficult incidents

Stress-related illness accounted for more than a quarter of sick days taken by paramedics in the North East, figures show.

The North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) said its paramedics took 2,927 absence days due to anxiety, stress and depression between July 2017 and June 2018.

That represents 25.87% of the total 11,310 sick days taken.

The organisation said it would “continue to support” its staff.

The average number of paramedics employed at NEAS during that time was 594, meaning each one lost an average of 4.9 days due to stress in those 12 months, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

Caroline Thurlbeck, director of strategy, transformation and workforce, said: “Our absence rates are reflective of the physical and mental demands placed on our hard-working staff on a daily basis.

“Alongside the rest of the UK ambulance services, we have had a number of vacant posts for ambulance paramedics over the past few years but we continue our proactive recruitment campaign which has helped to ease the pressure on ambulance crews.

“We will continue to support our staff to manage their physical and mental health and wellbeing and reduce sickness absence across the trust.”

The organisation covers Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, County Durham, Darlington and Teesside.

In October it announced its ambulance crews would be given body cameras for a three-month trial following a 23% rise in assaults on staff over 12 months.

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